Dayron Varona was in baseball limbo. He wasn’t on the Durham active roster, sent to the Hudson Valley roster back on May 2.
A month away from that season starting, Varona remained in Durham, but it might as well been baseball purgatory. His deactivation was no doing of his own, just not enough space on the roster. It happens. Especially at the Triple A level. So all the Cuba native did was wait and continue his normal routine. He showed up, took batting practice, did all the things he always did to remain healthy. Deep down inside, however, he was frustrated.
Thanks to some roster moves, Varona returned to the active roster during a 5-1 win over Rochester on Wednesday. He came back with a bang. Varona led the Bulls, going 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored and had a stolen base. Varona started the game 3-for-3 before popping out his final at-bat.
For his efforts, Varona was named the Player of the Game, picking right up where he left off, appearing to never miss a beat during his time away from the game.
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“Just shows you what type of person he is as far as preparation and determination,” Durham manager Jared Sandberg said. “Anytime you’ve been taken off the roster because of space issues, roster flexibility, your playing time gets taken away it makes you a little more hungry. He said he was hungry, he gets put back in the lineup and got three hits. I’m proud of him.”
Prior to being taken off the active roster, Varona was batting .219 with two homers and nine RBI in 17 games. Wednesday was his fifth multi-hit game of the season. He spent the entire 2016 season with the Bulls, leading the team in doubles (32), RBI (59) and total bases (177). But this year, when moves needed to be made, Varona was a casualty. During the time away he approached everyday like he would be in the starting lineup.
“I knew that this was not going to be the end of my career,” Varona said. “I was just working everyday, doing my routine and staying healthy.”
Sandberg said Varona, 29, had his “back up against the wall a little bit.” If a move wasn’t made, Hudson Valley could have been the last stop, so there was a little added pressure there. Varona admitted he was a bit anxious about his return, not having seen a live pitch in a month, but it didn’t show.
“I knew it was going to be hard in the beginning of the game because I hadn’t seen a pitch in three weeks. “When I came to the plate I was just thinking see the ball and hit it,” Varona said. “I was a little lost at the plate, but I was good after that first at-bat.”
Sandberg watched Varona around the clubhouse for the last month, and could tell his veteran wasn’t happy about being inactive. In that situation, who would be? But Varona, as Sandberg expected, responded like a pure professional.
“He knows he can play, he knows he has tools, it’s just a matter of him getting an opportunity,” Sandberg said. “The opportunity came and he took advantage of it. He came in ready.”